Gulzar Ahmed Khan -- A Life Well Lived
A person for the times:
Senator Gulzar Ahmed Khan was born in a middle class family in Dera Ismail Khan (D.I.Khan). He received his early education in DI Khan and then in Peshawar. He then moved to Lahore where he received his law degree (LLB) from the Punjab University and acquired expertise in legal matters as an associate of S M Zafar, famous jurist and former law minister of Pakistan. Gulzar Khan was a hard working and far sighted person. For this reason besides advancing in the practice of law he also did well in private enterprise. Gulzar Khan revolutionised real estate in Pakistan by developing the concept of ‘housing schemes’. He planned a modern colony in the Lahore cantonment area many decades ago that eventually became the present day Defence Housing Authority (DHA). It would not be remiss to call Gulzar Khan one of the founders of the modern DHA.
Gulzar Khan was an active and progressive person. It was impossible for him to become static and his fertile imagination made him advance into the field of politics. He started his political life from D I Khan, his hometown in 1965 when he contested the ‘Basic Democracy’ (BD) elections, at which time he also developed close personal relationships with politicians of different social and political thoughts and ideologies. A few years later the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) came into existence. As an astute politician as well as an intrinsically progressive person he determined that PPP was the future of Pakistan at that time. For this reason he decided to become familiar with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto as well as other leaders of the PPP and rose up within the ranks in The PPP. Because of his popularity in D I Khan area, Gulzar Khan received the PPP ticket to contest elections against Mufti Mehmood the leader of Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam. This was indeed an honour bestowed upon him by the PPP leadership and was a mark of his evolving importance within the party.
During the 1977 martial law, when the Bhutto family and many leaders of the PPP were being victimised, Gulzar Khan emerged as a loyal and pragmatic leader of the PPP. At a time when a lot of PPP ‘leaders’ stepped back, Gulzar Khan actively worked for and supported the party even when the party was under extreme legal pressure. When it seemed that the PPP was going nowhere, Gulzar Khan kept on working with the PPP. Few people know the extent of Gulzar Khan’s contribution at that time.
Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto Shaheed and Senator Gulzar Ahmed Khan::
When Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto Shaheed arrived in Lahore after her ‘exile’; in 1986 the door of Gulzar House was opened up to her. From then on Gulzar House became the centre and the hub of PPP politics. Under the leadership of Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto Shaheed, Gulzar Khan played an extremely important role in restoring both the prestige and the popularity of PPP. Because of his unique personality Gulzar Khan was able to keep up with his cultural and social obligations. thought it important that his children should not only meet his political contemporaries but also get to know them. It is for this reason that both his sons are well established politicians today and will surely play important role in the future political developments in Pakistan.
Gulzar Ahmed Khan, a political visionary:
After the return of democracy in the country and the 1988 elections, the PPP became the ruling party in Pakistan. When Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto became Prime Minister of Pakistan, she chose Gulzar Khan as her advisor for interprovincial coordination (with the rank of federal minister). This decision was based on Gulzar Khan’s demonstrated political acumen and his conciliatory capabilities. He performed very well in this position. In 1991 Gulzar Ahmed Khan was elected a senator. Soon thereafter Begum Razia Sultana was also elected a member of the national assembly. In a few years both his sons Waqar and Ammar also were elected as senators. In short the entire Gulzar Khan family became involved in politics. Mohtrama was so impressed by his political abilities that she would often depend on his advice in important matters. His primary role in the government was always that of an experienced politician and an intermediary and an honest and more importantly and honourable adviser.
Gulzar Ahmed Khan: The person:
Gulzar Khan was an honest, down to earth and a straight forward person. He made all his decisions about personal as well as public affairs based on an objective assessment of the situation. Once he made a decision he made sure that he stuck with it. Even those that opposed him in the political or business environments always agreed with this aspect of his personality. He believed in following what was ‘right’ and gave the same advice to others. Even during difficult political times, he always stayed on the right path. Even though he was a sensitive person, he never put his personal ego ahead of any political or business decision. That throughout was a hallmark of his personality.
He always treated his immediate family as well as all those that worked for him with great compassion. Especially for those that worked for him, he was particularly careful about their personal needs. He thought that it was his duty to look after the needs of his employees and most importantly passed on that same belief to his children along with the need to share the pains and sorrows of ordinary people. He probably received the desire to help the poor in his heredity and up to the time he passed away he paid for and ran many free food give-away for poor people. Besides free food he also set up filtration plants providing clean drinking water in D I Khan along with a fire brigade. He always thought that providing clean drinking water as well as employment opportunities was an important responsibility for him.
He also worked for the improvement in DI Khan that included setting up an FM radio station and metalling many roads as well as providing ways to remove rain water. He worked hard to provide electricity for his constituents and was always available to try and help solve even their smallest problems.
Gulzar Ahmed Khan: The father
He was not only a loving father but he also made sure that his children received a modern education and also proper physical and moral training to make sure that they developed into decent and well educated human beings. He realised that the hard work that he had gone through as a young person was a ‘tradition’ that he wanted to pass on to his children. Most importantly, he never differentiated between his sons or his daughter and then his male and female grand children as far as education were concerned. He made sure that all of them received the best possible education available.
In spite of all his social, political, and business engagements he never ignored his family. Having lunch with his family was always a high point of his day. He participated in personal, social and religious occasions that involved his family. He was completely involved in the educational activities of his children. This is something that led to both his sons eventually becoming senators. It is perhaps the first and the only time in the history of Pakistan that Gulzar Ahmed Khan and both of his sons, Waqar Ahmed Khan and Ammar Ahmed Khan were senators at the same time.
Gulzar Khan: The person who achieved all that was possible.
What could be a greater accomplishment for a person that during his life he worked hard and saw the fruits of his endeavours during his life. Gulzar Khan is one of those unique human beings who in his life time accomplished all that a person could want. He was a successful politician, a successful business man, he was a generous philanthropist and most importantly he wanted his children and their children to grow up to become well educated and successful human beings. He saw all that in his life time. Surely when he went on to meet his Maker, Gulzar Khan was a contented human being. May Allah be kind to him. Ameen.